Cornyn later backed off those remarks. But Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, citing an increase in threats, recently said, "I don't think the harsh rhetoric helps. I think it energizes people who are a little off-base to take actions that maybe they wouldn't otherwise take."
But other justices appeared to take the harsh criticism in stride, including Anthony Kennedy, the one some conservative activists call "the poster boy for impeachment."
"We learn of threats in different ways, often with letters -- and when we get those, we immediately turn them over to our people," Kennedy said. "It's healthy. It's very important. That's the democratic dialogue that makes democracy work."
For activists demanding more conservative rulings, it may be ironic that a clear majority of federal judges across the country have now been appointed by Republican presidents, including seven of the nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.
But with several of those justices in poor health and nearing retirement, the red-hot rhetoric over judges may soon get even more overheated.
ABC News' Chris Bury originally reported this story for "Nightline" on April 21, 2005.